No Girls Allowed in the Good Ol' Boys Tech Club
Why women are still having a tough time breaking the sexism barrier.
After Ellen Pao, a former partner at Kleiner Perkins and current interim CEO of Reddit, lost her discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, some were concerned that the result would dissuade other women from bringing lawsuits against the mighty tech industry.
It is unfortunate that, in today’s society, many women in the tech industry are still waging war against the male-dominated barriers. Even as women make significant advances in a diverse range of fields from physics to space exploration, the doors to the technology field "remain virtually closed to women." At many tech companies nationwide, only a tiny fraction of the technical staff, 2 to 4 percent in some cases, are women.
“Even as women make significant headway in fields from law to business, and technology zooms along as one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, its doors remain virtually closed to women. Just 5.7 percent of employed women in the United States work in the computer industry, and only about 2 percent of women have a degree in a high-tech field, according to Catalyst, a prominent research firm studying women and business.” – New York Times
While the tech industry prides itself on its cutting edge, forward thinking attitudes, women in the 21st century still have to hit the legal pavement in order to be heard. Lawsuits against some of the tech industry’s giants are popping up like popcorn over a fire.
So it is no surprise that companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Zillow, Paymentwall, AliphCom and OnShift are being called to task over the injustice of gender discrimination.
Many blame the industry's growing gender gap on a "brogrammer" culture, a hybrid of "bro" and "programmer" that's become a tongue-in-cheek name for engineers. – Los Angeles Times
Sexism is a major problem in the scientific and technical industry, from universities to companies that are industry leaders in today's innovative economy.
The future of gender discrimination lawsuits against technology companies is unknown. In a study published in 2012, Yale researchers found that, “science professors at American universities widely regard female undergraduates as less competent than male students with the same accomplishments and skills”.
This foundation promotes negative stereotypes about the skills women possess in technical fields and prevents career opportunities with technical companies, which in turn leads to a tremendously low percentage rate of women in tech.
A new documentary by Robin Hauser Reynolds, “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last April, digs into the reasons the tech industry needs more female computer programmers and tackles the male dominated statistics in the tech fields .
What’s the secret handshake?
When the tech industry’s giants Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo revealed their pathetically low number of female employees a year ago and confessing that they had to make major improvements was a glaring reality that, “No girls allowed” isn’t just a myth, it is very real.
While there doesn’t seem to be any special knock or secret handshake to gain entrance into the good ol’ boys club, there are several tips companies can consider in order to avoid gender discrimination in the workplace:
- Move women into leadership roles
- Avoiding gender stereotypes and make sure the company’s policy does not support them
- Steer clear of illegal interview questions
- Hire and promote a diversified workforce
- Get rid of the salary cap in the gender gap
- Institute clear zero tolerance policies and procedures
- Don't leave men out
- Educate all employees from the top down on workplace diversity and discrimination
- Establish a complaint procedure that employees can use without fear of consequences
- Conduct salary audits to expose and deal with unexplained differences
- Act promptly to rectify any discriminatory treatment once a complaint is made
Anything you can do, I can do better
Women who are forging a path to careers in technology are baring their proverbial teeth and are no longer going to be silenced. As the lawsuits start to mount, tech companies would be wise to not only acknowledged that there is a real problem with gender discrimination among its ranks, but to change it, quickly.
efelle creative is proud to have a high percentage of women coders amongst its technical family!
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